Editor’s Note ~ S Prasannarajan | Ullekh NP | V Shoba | Nandini Nair
Open Minds 2017: Public Square
In many ways, a country is like the theatre. It needs a resplendent cast of characters to stay inspired and plots to entertain it. The eclectic mix of people we feature in this section perform diverse roles and functions. They include activists, conservatives, opinion leaders, rebels, crusaders, doers, dreamers and innovators. Collectively, all of them contribute to the making of the passion called India. We have among us sceptics who complain that the level of political discourse has been degraded, mostly by those we elect. Yet we also have those who tirelessly call them out and fight for expanding the space for dialogue, without which a democracy cannot forge ahead. India, we are often told, is a country with a chequered past and an uncertain future. But as a nation, it has managed to flourish and triumph against daunting odds and terrifying prophecies, thanks to people such as these who play a pivotal role in championing truth and action. This list, therefore, is a celebration of our faith in hope and our ability to push boundaries, fight off challenges, overcome the odds, solve problems, invest in aspirations, and, above all, dream big.
Amitav Ghosh, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political Scientist | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar and MP | Ram Madhav, Political Thinker | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Urjit Patel, RBI Governor | Patrick French, Author | Swapan Dasgupta, Political Commentator and MP | Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor | Nandan Nilekani, Technocrat and Author | Pankaj Mishra, Author | Arnab Goswami, TV Journalist | Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog | Parag Khanna, Author | Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Entrepreneur | Milan Vaishnav, Author | Vipin Narang, Political Scientist | Zarir Udwadia, Physician | Abhijit Banerjee, Economist | Mukul Kesavan, Essayist | Pankaj Ghemawat, Author | Vijay Govindarajan, Business Strategist | Mishi Choudhary, Technology Lawyer | Santosh Desai: Columnist | Gurmehar Kaur, Student
Open Minds 2017: Soft Power
Early this year, Barack Obama spoke to The New York Times about how important books were to him during his White House tenure. “At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” he said, reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes”. The minds we’ve mapped in the Soft Power section do exactly that—their books, their art, their films slow us down, and slip us into somebody else’s shoes. This slowing down allows us to see the world from different angles, it gives us pause and forces us to re-jig our thoughts. Walking in another’s shoes grants us empathy, the most humane of qualities.
Too often the arts are relegated to the back of the book and to ‘leisure time’, as if they are to be sneaked in after all the weighty business is done. But the artists and authors in this section are essential, if we are to make sense of the times we live in. Authors like Aravind Adiga and Amit Chaudhuri are altering the scope of the novel. Mythologists like Devdutt Pattanaik and Arshia Sattar not only retell the ancient epics but re-imagine them and make them modern. The artists and actors, authors and musicians, filmmakers and writers, featured in these pages all have one thing in common: they are all profoundly modern. By responding to our times, they are changing the way we perceive art and food, cinema and literature. Modern comes from the Latin word ‘modo’ (to measure). In these men and women, we have a true measure of our times.
SS Rajamouli, Filmmaker | Amit Chaudhuri, Novelist | Arundhati Roy, Author and Activist | Audrey Truschke, Historian | Aamir Khan, Actor | Aravind Adiga, Novelist | Mohanlal, Actor | Bose Krishnamachari & Riyas Komu, Artists | Karan Johar, Director and Producer | Abhishek Poddar, Art Collector | Arshia Sattar, Author | Vinay Sitapati, Author | TM Krishna, Carnatic Musician and Cultural Critic | Nagraj Manjule, Filmmaker |Dhanush, Actor | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Jitish Kallat, Artist | Vetrimaaran, Director and Screenwriter | Manju Warrier, Actor | Vivek Shanbhag, Author | Pullela Gopichand, Badminton Coach | Devdutt Pattanaik, Author | Manish Mehrotra, Chef | Abish Mathew, Stand-Up Comic | Neeraj Ghaywan, Filmmaker